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Building up believers and the New Testament church

Divorce and Remarriage - The Significance of Union

Divorce (Breaking a God-Ordained Union)

"For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously" (Malachi 2:16).

God hates divorce! What is divorce? Divorce is an attempt to separate a union that was made by God. It is evil and destructive in every way, and it brings violence at every turn. It affects in countless ways, and leaves a path of pain and bitterness from beginning to end. It is the plague of our age and may well be a root cause of the crumbling of nations. The church is called to stand as salt and light, and if we are to fulfill that calling we must stand with God against divorce in every way God enables us to do so.

"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6). Jesus tells us that when two join themselves together as husband and wife, they are one in reality. This oneness goes far beyond the physical union and enters into other realms, some of which we may understand to some degree and others we may not. Paul says it is a mystery, so I question whether we can explain everything about this oneness. Divorce seeks to break that union. Jesus made it very clear that God has never approved of divorce. "The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?' And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" ? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.' They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery'" (Matthew 19:3-9).

If we look back to the Old Testament mentions of divorce, we will see that God always viewed it as a very serious offense. Among the instructions for priests who minister to the Lord we find this: "They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God" (Leviticus 21:7). Why is divorce so serious in God's eyes? Is it not because it represents everything that is contrary to the nature and purpose of God? God is a God of love, and love brings oneness. Divorce comes when love has failed, and separation is the result. The devil always works to divide what God has brought together. Divorce brings shame to those who are involved and an open triumph for the enemy of our souls. The pain that follows divorce, not only in the husband and wife but also in children, family, and friends, is far-reaching. The effects of the damage often last for a lifetime. Apart from the miracle working of God's grace, men and women seldom completely recover. Statistics tell us that children of divorced parents are much more likely to experience the same failure in their marriage. No wonder God hates divorce.

Our purpose here is not to dwell on these things, but to emphasize that divorce is not to be taken lightly. It is a very serious expression of sin in God's eyes. The rampant divorce rate in our society today is having a devastating effect on so many. As children of light we need to take God's mind as our mind and exercise a holy hatred towards divorce. We need to stand against this flow of sin, so that lives might be rescued from this destruction and saved from the damage that is sure to come.

One minister used this illustration: "Imagine if this room had no windows, and only one door. If a fire broke out over here, what would your first reaction be? You would run to the door. You would get out as fast as you could. But what if there were no door? Or it was locked and dead-bolted from the outside? If a fire broke out, and there was truly no way out, what would you do? Your focus would be on putting out the fire, not on running from the flame. We should view our marriages as barred shut, with no exit. Then our focus would not be on running out, but on restoring the fellowship, squelching the flames of anger and fanning the flames of love."